Tag Archives: anand


“‘Is your pain very bad?’ asked Bakha ironically, to make his father conscious of his bad temper.  ‘I will rub your side with oil if you like.’

‘No, no’, said the old man irritably, turning his face to hide the shame which his son’s subtle protest aroused in him.  He had no pain at all in his side, or anywhere, and was merely foxing, being in his old age ineffectual, and excusing himself from work like a child.  ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘you go and attend to the work.  I’ll be all right.’  And he smiled gently.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 23.


Though not quite Woolf-ian in its representation of consciousness, this bit of dialogue seems similar in intent, giving us glimpses of the inner thoughts of both opponents in the power play it is observing.  Also, its placement right after a series of power struggles between castes and outcastes is likely a deliberate choice by Anand to ironize it, begging the question as to why family members should be fighting when each of them individually has to fight the entire weight of an oppressive class system.

Buying sweets

“The confectioner smiled faintly at the crudeness of the sweeper’s taste, for jalebis are rather coarse stuff and no one save a greedy low-caste man would ever buy four annas’ worth of jalebis. But he was a shopkeeper. He affected a casual manner and picking up his scales abruptly, began to put the sweets in one pan against bits of stone and some black, round iron weights which he threw into the other. The alacrity with which he lifted the little string attached to the middle of the rod, balanced the scales for the shortest possible space of time and threw the sweets into a piece torn off an old Daily Mail, was as amazing as it was baffling to poor Bakha, who knew he had been cheated, but dared not complain. He caught the jalebis which the cconfectioner threw at him like a cricket ball, placed four nickel coins on the shoe-board for the confectioner’s assistant who stood ready to splash some water on them, and he walked away embarassed, yet happy.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. 36-37. London, England: Penguin, 1986. Print.

Sohini’s Structured Emotions

“Sohini was a bit frightened at first and grew pale, but she kept intensely still and avoiding the shock, subsided into a listless apathy. As she looked away, however, and cast her eyes to the blue heavens overhead, she felt a sort of dreariness, a pain, which, though she accepted it resignedly, brought a hurtfulness with it. Sad and wistful, she heaved a soft sigh and felt something in her heart asking for mercy. The sun overhead shot down bright arrows of heat, and inspired a feeling of the passing of time, a feeling that made her forget the unsolicited quarrel with Gulabo, but cast over her the miserable, soul-harrowing shadow of the vision of her brother waiting for her at home, thirst after the morning’s toil, dying for a cup of tea. And yet no caste Hindu seemed to be near.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 26. Print.

Like Faulkner rarely talking about the river as a river, Anand stretches the painful experience of frustration and guilt. It is interesting how that “apathy” is simply expressed in word while the true suffering is analyzed further. Sohini stays still and waits as the sun and the sky are moving, telling her that time is moving and nothing is getting done. Instead of impatience, a feeling that comes across as selfish, guilt takes its place and defines Sohini for what she is and what she will accept.


“Ever since he had worked in the British barracks Bakha had been ashamed of the Indian way of performing ablutions, all that gargling and spitting, because he knew the Tommies disliked it. He remembered so well the Tommies’ familiar abuse of the natives: ‘Kala admi zamin par hagne wala’ (black man you who relieve yourself on the ground). But he himself had been ashamed at the sight of Tommies running naked to their tub baths. ‘Disgraceful,’ he had said to himself. They were, however, sahibs.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 18-19. Print.

What I find interesting about this is the level of seeming hypocrisy that can be found in his feelings towards the caste system. On one hand he looks up to and wants to emulate the Tommies, while on the other, he still has a level of disgust for their behaviors. Taking this idea even further, while he seems to want to abandon the ideas of a horrid  caste system, he acknowledges the Tommies position in a form of globalized caste system (being sahibs, masters over the Indian people). Therefore, it doesn’t appear that he so much wants to abandon the idea of castes completely, but that he wants to move up the ladder to a more civilized level of a more globalized caste system.

An overwhelming desire

“And he had soon become possessed with an overwhelming desire to live their life. He had been told they were sahibs, superior people.” (11)

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.

‘An overwhelming desire’ really struck me as a moment in the beginning of the story that set up how the rest of the novel would go. The desire to be somebody else is a theme that this character shares, as well as something that readers can relate to.

Breaking Social Barriers

“For a sweeper, a menial to be seen smoking constituted an offence before the lord. Bhaka knew that it was considered a presumption on the part of the poor to smoke like rich people”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 42. Print.

Despite being lower in the Caste system, Bhaka chooses to engage in behaviors outside of the realm of what is “acceptable” for people of his caste. Smoking the cigarette near the lord is a breaking of this barrier where Bhaka engages in behaviors that imitate that of a higher caste.

Anand: Purpose in Loaded Descriptions

“He had seen her before…the fresh young form whose full breasts with their dark beads of nipples stood out so conspicuously under her muslin shirt, whose innocent look of wonder seemed to stir the only soft chord in his person, hardened by the congenital weakness of his mind, brazened by the authority he exercised over the faithful and devout. And he was inclined to be kind to her.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 29.

I’m torn between being appreciative of the sensuality of the writing, and disgusted by the priest‘s objectification of this young woman. Alas, it’s still strikes me as highly impressive, that I’m able to gather so much about this man within a single chunk of text, and not get lost in it’s heavy, if not poetic, sentence construction.

Hunger For Something More

“Ever since he was a child he had walked past the wooden stall on which lay heaped the scarlet and khaki uniforms discarded or pawned by the Tommies, pith solar topees, peak caps, knives, forks, buttons, old books and other oddments of Anglo-Indian life. And he had hungered for the touch of them. But he had never mustered up courage enough to go up to the keeper of the shop and to ask him the price of anything, lest it should be a price he could not pay and lest the man should find out from his talk that he was a sweeper-boy” (p. 11).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.

While only reading the first few pages, this passage stood out to me. It expresses a sense of hope that Bakha wishes for. It is an intense passage that evokes sympathy in the reader.

Vivid Descriptions of Beauty

“The blood in Bakha’s veins tingled with the heat as he stood before it.  His dark face, round and solid and exquisitely well defined, lit with a queer sort of beauty.”  (Anand 20).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.

This small passage stood out because this book often takes time to describe how poorly the untouchables are treated and how dirty their living conditions and work are, but here, we are provided with a scene that depicts the actual beauty of the character, in contrast to his lifestyle.

Bakha the Naïve

And though his job was dirty he remained comparatively clean. He didn’t even soil his sleeves, handling the commodes, sweeping and scrubbing them. ‘A bit superior to his job,’ they always said…

Havildar Charat Singh, who had the Hindu instinct for immaculate cleanliness, was puzzled when he emerged from his painful half an hour in the latrines and caught sight of Bakha. Here was a low-cast man who seemed clean! He became rather self-concious, the prejudice of the ‘twice-born’ high-caste Hindu against stink, even though he saw not the slightest suspicion of it in Bakha, rising into his mind. He smiled complacently. Then, however, he forgot his high caste and the ironic smile on his face became a childlike laugh.

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 9-10. Print.

Bakha is naïve in that he believes his English appearance and cleanliness will give him respect. This is contrasted with Singh’s high-caste smugness against Bakha’s status. Still, we see that Bakha’s image does make Singh uneasy seeing his clean appearance.